Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Following the same pattern that Samsung led with the 840 Pro and 840 EVO, history has repeated itself with the 850 Pro and 850 EVO. With the 850 EVO launching late last year and being quite successful, it was only a matter of time before Samsung expanded past the 2.5" form factor for this popular SSD. Today is that day:

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Today we will be looking at the MSATA and M.2 form factors. To clarify, the M.2 units are still using a SATA controller and connection, and must therefore be installed in a system capable of linking SATA lanes to its M.2 port. As both products are SATA, the DRAM cache based RAPID mode included with their Magician value added software is also available for these models. We won't be using RAPID for this review, but we did take a look at it in a prior article.

Given that 850 EVOs use VNAND - a vastly different technology than the planar NAND used in the 840 EVO, we suspect it is not subject to the same flash cell drift related issues (hopefully to be corrected soon) in the 840 EVO. Only time will tell for sure on that front, but we have not see any of those issues present in 850 EVO models since their launch.

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Cross sectional view of Samsung's 32-layer VNAND. Photo by TechInsights.

Samsung sampled us the M.2 SATA in 120GB and 500GB, and the MSATA in 120GB and 1TB. Since both are SATA-based, these are only physical packaging differences. The die counts are the same as the 2.5" desktop counterparts. While the pair of 120GB models should be essentially identical, we'll throw both in with the results to validate the slight differences in stated specs below.

Continue reading our review of these new Samsung 850 EVOs!!

Intel / Micron Announce 3D NAND Production with Industry's Highest Density: >10TB on a 2.5" SSD

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand

Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.

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The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.

What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.

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A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review

While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.

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This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.

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So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.

Source: Intel

Can OCZ's Vector change 180 degrees with their new SSD?

Subject: Storage | March 25, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Vector 180, ssd, sata, ocz, 960GB, 480GB, 240gb, barefoot 3, toshiba mlc

If you haven't already done so you should start out with Al's deep dive into the new OCZ Vector 180 SSDs, which uses the Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba A19 MLC flash and suffers similar issues to other drives using these components.  Once you are done studying you can take a look at other reviews, such as the performance overview at The Tech Report of this drive which is extremely similar to the ARC 100 and Radeon R7 SSDs.  The drives are definitely aimed at the value conscious user, while most are currently not in stock at Amazon, the pricing of 120GB @ $90, 240GB at $185 and 480 at $270 are not bad for initial release.  The Tech Report does plan on doing more testing but from what they saw in their testing the new Vector 180 beats the 150 for performance.

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"OCZ's Vector SSDs are among the fastest around, and now there's a new one. The Vector 180 combines the company's proprietary Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba's latest "A19" NAND. We've taken a closer look at the drive—and OCZ's recent reliability rep—to see what's what."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Storage Solutions

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

OCZ has been on a fairly steady release track since their aquisition by Toshiba. Having previously pared down their product lines, taking a minimalist approach, the other half of that cycle has taken place with releases like the OCZ AMD Radeon R7. Today we see another addition to OCZ's lineup, in the form of a newer Vector - the Vector 180 Series:

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Today we will run all three available capacities (240GB, 480GB, and 960GB) through our standard round of testing. I've thrown in an R7 as a point of comparison, as well as a hand full of the competition.

Specifications:

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Here are the specs from OCZ's slide presentation, included here as it gives a good spec comparison across OCZ's SATA product range.

Packaging:

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Standard packaging here. 3.5" adapter bracket and Acronis 2013 cloning software product key included.

Continue reading our review of the new OCZ Vector 180 SSD!!

Reliable high volume storage; the 4TB Toshiba MG04ACA400A

Subject: Storage | March 23, 2015 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, MG04ACA400A, datacenter, enterprise

Toshiba's new MG04ACA series are Enterprise class HDDs available in increments of 1TB, from 2TB to 6TB and ship with either 4K or 512B emulation depending on your preference.  Mad Shrimps just wrapped up a review of the 4TB model which certainly cannot match a SSD for speed but it is rated for 1400000 hours and workloads of 550TB a year, constant usage.  You do pay a premium for enterprise level drives but spinning rust is still far more economical in high densities that flash based drives are.  If you are looking for reliable HDDs for your servers, check this review out.

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"The new MG04ACA series from Toshiba is composed from drives which are meant for enterprise, mission-critical applications, while sporting higher transfer rates and capacities. The tested sample comes with 128MB of cache and comes in two versions, depending on the applications it is needed for: with 512 sector emulation or strictly with 4K sector. Make sure to choose wisely which drive is for you and your setups in order to bypass any incompatibilities which may arise."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Mad Shrimps

The Tech Report Endurance Test Ends Just After 2.4PB

Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance

The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.

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This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.

Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!

  1. Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
  2. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
  3. Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
  4. Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
  5. Intel 335 (240GB)
  6. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)

The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.

Source: Tech Report
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Patriot Memory

Introduction, Specs and Packaging

Introduction:

We're getting back into USB device roundup testing. To kick it off, Patriot passed along a couple of USB samples for review. First up is the Supersonic Phoenix 256GB:

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Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 260MB/s
  • Write speed: up to 170MB/s
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Stylish 3D design
  • USB Powered
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • Compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Linux 2.4 and later, Mac OS9, X and later

Next up is their Supersonic Rage 2:

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  • Up to 400MB/s Read; Up to 300MB/s Write
  • Durable design extends the life of your drive
  • Rubber coated housing protects from drops, spills, daily abuse
  • Retractable design protects USB connector when drive not in use
  • LED Light Indicator
  • Compatible with Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 7,
    Windows Vista®, Windows XP®, Windows 2000®, Windows® ME,
    Linux 2.4 and later, Mac® OS9, X

Packaging:

The Phoenix comes well packaged with a necessary USB 3.0 cable:

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The Rage 2 comes in very simple packaging:

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Read on for the results!

Western Digital Launches Re+ Datacenter HDD, Bests HGST He6 in Power Consumption

Subject: Storage | March 10, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Re+, hdd, 6tb, 5TB

Western Digital has just launched a new entry in their Datacenter Capacity HDD lineup:

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The Re+ is based on the Re series of enterprise 3.5" HDDs (first revision reviewed here), but this one reduces the spin speed down from 7200 RPM to 5760 RPM. The HGST Ultrastar He6 is a great power efficient and Helium filled drive, but while that unit spins at 7200 RPM, it's max data rate is only 177 MB/sec. The 6TB WD RE spins at the same speed with a much higher rate of 225 MB/sec, but also draws more power than an He6. By reducing the platter speed, WD was able to bring power consumption into the 4.6-6.2W range with peak transfer rates of 175 MB/sec. The competing He6 draws 5.0-7.0W.

While dialing back the RPM was a simple way to achieve this very low power consumption, the He6 would still have the advantage in seek times (a faster spinning disk means less time waiting for the data to come around to the read head). The seek time argument may be moot given the purpose of these HDDs leans towards cold/warm/archival data storage that is very infrequently and sporadically accessed. Still, it is an interesting point that WD's platter density was so much higher that they could simply slow the RPM and yet maintain throughputs competitive with a faster spinning unit.

In combination with this announcement is the fact that the Re and Se lines (formerly limited to 4TB) are now available in 5TB and 6TB capacities. With the Se moving up to 6TB, we may see a Red Pro in the same capacity in the near future (depending on demand).

More to follow on these at a future date. Full press blast after the break.

Intel 750 Series SSD Spotted at PAX East, Appears to be SSD DC P3500-based

Subject: Storage | March 9, 2015 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: SSD 750, pcie, p3500, NVMe, Intel

At PAX East, what appears to be the new Intel SSD 750 Series was spotted:

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The above article mentiones the 750 will be available in 400GB and 1.2TB versions, with an 800GB model 'being considered internally'. Those capacities sound familiar - look at this crop of the specs for the P3500/P3600/P3700 Series:

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Note the P3500 has identical capacity grades. As one more point of comparison, look at this leaked screen shot of the UNH-IOL compatibility list:

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Source: TweakTown

...so with what appears to be identical firmware revisions, it's a safe bet that the upcoming SSD 750 Series will borrow the same fire-breathing 18-channel controller present in the Intel SSD DC P3700 (reviewed here). The packaging may be more consumer oriented, and the power is likely dialed back a bit as to produce less heat in more airflow constrained consumer PC cases, but it's looking more and more like the SSD 750 will be a reasonably quick consumer / prosumer / workstation SSD. Given that the P3500 launched at $1.50/GB, we hope to see the 750 launch for far less.

My biggest beef with this upcoming consumer NVMe part from Intel is the (possible) lack of an 800GB capacity. Many power users will consider 400GB too small, but would then be forced to jump 3x in capacity (and price) to the 1.2TB model. That might be ok for enterprise budgets, but it won't fly for PC users who can choose from other PCIe SSDs that fill that possible 800-960GB void in Intel's lineup.

Source: Gamers Nexus

Connected Data Updates Transporter Line, iOS App, Adds Standard Links

Subject: Storage | March 9, 2015 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: transporter, filetransporter

Transporter is a pairing of hardware and software to accomplish the goal of having your own personal file storage cloud - but this one scales all the way from a single user to enterprise. Connected Data has been on a bit of a roll these past couple of weeks. First they announced some big updates to their product line:

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Here's a look at the old product line:

Transporter (old).png

...and now the new line:

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The two middle (and likely most popular) tiers have been replaced with a complete hardware redesign. The units that used to borrow from Drobo design cues are now what appear to be the first round of Transporter-specific multi-HDD units. The specs have also been beefed up for those two models, as both now employ dual Gigabit Ethernet with increased capacity and simultaneous user ratings also increased accordingly. You'll still need to step up to the true business tiers for redundant power supplies and rack mountability, but the 15 and 30 should be great for small businesses or remotely located groups within a business.

The new units are priced at $2499 for the 15 (~6TB) and $4999 for the 30 (~9TB). Full details available in their spec sheet (PDF). Full press blast on the above appears after the break.

Next up is an update to their iOS app:

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Updates in this release:

  • Provides storage for your other apps using new iOS 8 Storage Extensions to upload, open, and save files directly to Transporter
  • New VLC video player for enhanced video playback in addition to Apple Player option
  • Faster app startup and additional performance throughout the app
  • New user interface with cleaner layout and folder icons

Integration into iOS's native 'save to' dialog is a welcome addition for an app directly competing with Dropbox.

Finally is the addition of standard links:

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Transporter could previously support direct links, but standard links shift the hosting for those shared files to the Connected Data servers. Since direct links are limited by the speed of the Internet connection of the Transporter hosting the data, standard links can be used to speed up the transfer to multiple users. This would be ideal for family photo albums and other non-confidential files.

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As you can see above, once standard links have been enabled, you still have file-level control of which shared data passes through Connected Data's servers. This means you can still keep those sensitive files restricted to your own device, which is part of the reason for using one of these.

Good stuff coming from these guys. We're working on sampling one of these new models and will report on our experiences as we make them.

Oh, one more thing - they are running a buy one get one free sale on Transporter Sync. Promo code DOUBLELUCK gets you a free ($99) device! This U.S. only deal likely expires on the 17th.